Cano evolving into consistent power threat

Cano evolving into consistent power threat

NEW YORK -- Before Robinson Cano prepared to enjoy a brief respite at the All-Star break, the Yankees second baseman took a few moments to examine his offensive numbers for the first half.

He was pleasantly surprised with the results, spotting 13 homers already on the board, giving him reason to consider just how bright his season could be at the end. With the home stretch in sight, Cano can already see how it will play out.

"This is the best year that I ever had," Cano said. "Everything came together -- hitting, average, doubles, singles. I never had 13 home runs in the first half. I looked at my numbers and said, 'Wow.'"

Cano slugged his 20th home run on Tuesday, giving the Yankees a Major League-most six players with at least 20 homers.

He joins Mark Teixeira (31), Hideki Matsui (23), Johnny Damon (22), Alex Rodriguez (22) and Nick Swisher (21) to tie a franchise record, also achieved in 1961 and 2004.

"It feels great," Cano said. "I'm one of the youngest on the team and I'm learning from the guys. These are guys that work hard every single day and they can really play the game. I'm glad that I'm here, because when you've got those kinds of guys, all you can do is learn."

Batting .315 with 65 RBIs entering play on Wednesday as he rebounds from a down and frustrating 2008, Cano believes that the biggest difference for his season was having Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long travel to the Dominican Republic for a week in November.

"He came down to the Dominican and worked with me for a week, and talked to me about everything," Cano said. "We changed the stance and talked about swinging at strikes and using the whole field.

"I'm glad that I had K-Long coming down. I would love to do it again, if he doesn't mind."

His performance for a Yankees club that also features eight batters with 50 or more RBIs has impressed manager Joe Girardi, who declined to speculate just how good Cano could be in the future.

"I don't want to put a ceiling on this kid," Girardi said. "I think he can continue to improve and get better and better, as he learns more about himself and pitchers -- when he goes through tough times, and how to get out of tough times.

"He has so much talent and he has played great all year long. He has been everything we expect him to be."

Though he had high hopes in evaluating the team this spring, Cano said that he could not have forecast that kind of historical achievement.

"Honestly, no," Cano said. "I realized that we had a good lineup that could win a lot of games. We have great pitching. But I never realized that we had the kind of lineup that has six guys hitting 20 homers, and it's not even September yet."

With Jorge Posada (16), Derek Jeter (16) and Melky Cabrera also powering the ball over the fence with regularity this season, Cano said that there is a prevailing thought among the Yankees' batters that anyone can have the big night.

"That's why it's fun right now," Cano said. Everyone wants to do the job, not only home runs but getting on base. The guys behind me have power.

"We've got six guys that have 20 [homers], but we have [three] more than have more than 10. You just want to get on base for the guys, and everyone here can hit home runs."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.